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We’re Ready for Sandy

With Hurricane Sandy now projected to smack into the east coast around central New Jersey, like an enthusiastic Newfoundland heading towards a kiddy pool, there’s an excellent chance that our Scranton datacenter is going to be hit pretty hard.  Since we’re in the business of being dependable, we always try to brace for a worst-case scenario.  With that in mind, we wanted to take a moment to explain how the storm might affect your hosting and what we’re doing to prepare.

40499530-wideFirst and foremost, there is no such thing as an unsinkable hosting company.  Whether it’s severe weather like this, an employee accidentally loading the wrong routing table, or an inattentive backhoe operator, even the most well-planned, well-equipped datacenter can get knocked offline.  This is why you must run — not walk — in the opposite direction if a hosting company ever tries to tell you differently.  Although we’re pretty sure our servers will stay up, nobody — including us — can plan against the unthinkable.

Our shared hosting services should remain completely unaffected by the storm.  All of our shared hosting accounts are located in our downtown Los Angeles, CA datacenter.  Our billing system runs out of the same datacenter, so we expect our website and support systems to remain online and functional.  And besides, if Sandy makes it that far, then we’ve all got bigger things to worry about.

 Scranton PAAll of our VPSes and dedicated servers operate out of our Scranton PA datacenter, just a stone’s throw from the University of Scranton and outside the 100-year floodplain.  Power to the datacenter comes in from PPL on two 3-phase connections (one 480V, one 220V).  In the event of a loss of utility power, 1050 KVA facility-wide UPSes provide immediate backup power until the four on-site diesel generators (two 750 KW and two 550 KW) automatically kick in.  Network connectivity comes in via multiple premium carriers including Cogent, Verizon, XO Communications, Comcast, Highwinds, Hibernia Atlantic, and Zayo, along with private dark fiber connections to major carrier hotels in New York City and New Jersey.  In the event that one of our carriers goes down or becomes too congested, traffic is automatically routed around the obstruction.

Because of the extraordinarily severe nature of the storm, we expect to see utility power fail in the Scranton area.  If this happens, the facility-wide UPSes and 2.6 megawatts of on-site generator capacity will take over.  We’re also expecting to lose power in Harrisburg, which may cause some delay in responding to support and billing tickets.

The Scranton datacenter is pretty tough.  Being a Tier II facility, it has redundancy built in.  And with network technicians on site 24 hours a day, every single day, most problems are quickly detected and corrected.  We’re pretty confident that it will remain online.  But we can’t guarantee this, so we wanted to make sure all our customers know where we stand.  We’ll be using our Twitter and Facebook accounts to post any announcements or updates.

We’re loaded up with water.  We’ve got extra laptop and cell phone batteries.  The UPSes are charged, the fuel tanks are topped off, and we’re all glued to The Weather Channel.  Because even if the storm manages to fizzle out and become a non-issue, at least it’s a welcome reprieve from all the non-stop election coverage.

Stay dry!

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